The state Supreme Court’s ruling was prompted by a case against a man charged with a third-degree felony for failing to tell his male partner that he was HIV-positive. In Florida, it is illegal for anyone who knows they have HIV and is aware of the risks of passing it on to have “sexual intercourse” if their partner is unaware of their HIV-positive status. Gary Debaun was charged in 2011 for presenting his partner a fake medical card declaring he had no HIV. But the man’s lawyer insisted that the Florida law does not include same-sex intimate activity, ‘sexual intercourse’ to his opinion could mean only sex between a man and a woman. that is why his client could not be legally punished.
“Because the Legislature did not define ‘sexual intercourse’ … we look to the dictionary in order to ascertain the plain and ordinary meaning of the term.” They concluded that the term includes “acts beyond penile-vaginal intercourse.”The court added that the law, created in the midst of the US AIDS crisis, was not intended to be restricted to heterosexual sex, taking into consideration that HIV\AIDS affected mostly men having sex with men. Assistant state attorney Colleen Dunn, who brought the charges against Debaun nearly six years ago, said the decision had “been a long time coming. She added that when legislators “created this statute, they never thought that a definition of sexual intercourse would come into such play.” The case will now return to the trial court.